Indiana Black Expo’s Summer Celebration is right around the corner. There are many fantastic programs and events scheduled, but one that might not come to mind is the Red/Black exhibit at the Eiteljorg Museum.
This is a ground-breaking exhibit that explores the shared history between African and Native Americans. Prior to my visit to the museum, I had never contemplated any type of historical relationship between these two groups. Yet even a quick walk through the space will show you that it’s filled with conflict, cooperation, destruction and survival. For instance, some Native Americans helped black slaves escape, yet others held them as their own slaves. The Eiteljorg has been studying this issue since 2001 and has amassed a collection of artifacts that will really impress you.
But it’s not just the historical connections that are explored here. The exhibit also examines current issues of race and personal identity. One of the more interactive features of the exhibit is a computer that rotates various images of people’s faces. Visitors can guess which ethnicity this particular person identifies as. You’ll be amazed at how often your assumption is incorrect!
The exhibit is presented by Eli Lilly and Company and will only be at the museum through August 7. Located in White River State Park at the corner of West and Washington streets, the Eiteljorg is a quick walk from the Indiana Convention Center if you’re in town for Summer Celebration.
The museum is also bringing a bit of the exhibit’s spirit to Summer Celebration by hosting a musical/dance troupe called the Mardi Gras Indians Show. These New Orleans-based performers will take the stage at Summer Celebration on Saturday, July 16 at 2:45 p.m. They will also put on a colorful processional at 1:30 p.m. that day around the convention center. The origins of this group date back to the 1700s, and in its present form, they celebrate the shared history of African and Native Americans.
Photo 1: Peggy Fontenot (Potawatomi/Patawomeck/Cherokee)
Portrait of a Native American Robert Banks Cherokee Freedman
© Peggy Fotenot
Photo 2: Courtesy of the Mardi Gras Indian Show